Everything seems like an emergency these days. Yet, when it comes to our children, we always need to pay special attention.
And it sure does feel that many of our kids are really struggling with anxiety and depression-related issues.
Experts seem to agree that mental health issues for our children are near – if not at – an all-time high.
Pew Research started noticing this a few years back stating, “the number of teenagers who recently experienced depression increased 59% from 2007 to 2017.”
More recently, JAMA Pediatrics shared that there was “significant increase in children’s diagnosed anxiety and depression between 2016 and 2020.”
The trend hasn’t been good. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared child and adolescent mental health a ‘national emergency’ in October of 2021.
The isolation and home schooling that the pandemic brought along only exacerbated the matter. “Youth mental health difficulties” during the pandemic have “likely doubled” per JAMA Pediatrics
The rising demand for youth mental health services is one half of this emergency. The shortage of mental health practitioners that can help our youth makes up the other half.
Pediatrics Nationwide claims that “Less than half of the 7.7 million children in the United States with an identifiable mental health condition are receiving services from any mental health provider, much less a psychiatrist.” And while not receiving services is not the same as not able to receive services, it is clear that there is currently a shortage of appropriately trained professionals.
The American Psychological Association states in their 2022 Trends Report that school psychologists are in short supply. And everyone can attest that waiting lists for therapists focusing on children and adolescents have only grown on average.
It’s even more difficult on average to find an available therapist that belongs to a certain minority or has LGBTQI experience. Notably, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently noted that only 4% of psychologists are Black.
Telehealth has become a viable option
The proliferation of online therapy allows you to cast a much wider net when considering therapists. Therapists are licensed at the state level and can work with any resident of that state. Drive times, travel costs, scheduling issues, and wait times can be dramatically reduced when teletherapy is considered.
Plus, research suggests that children and teenagers have taken to telehealth even more effectively than adults due to their overall comfort level with the technology.
I have become quite comfortable in my online services with both children and adults. It isn’t for everyone, but has definitely saved parents and other clients many hours of traveling and expenses to get to my office. The other beauty of online therapy is it allows me to break up the hour between children and parents to maximize effectiveness. For example, if the child has little to discuss that day, I can jump to the parent for the rest of the time or vice versa.